When Smaller is Better: How Big Should Your First Employer Be?

y4Because of our consumer approach to life – we use our iPhone to search Google, log on to Facebook to interact with our friends, and shop on Amazon – it can be hard to remember that smaller companies even exist. This is particularly when it’s time to look for a job.

Many job seekers look to the big companies first, thinking they may offer the best platform to launch a successful career. And working for a big company may be right for you if the environment and professional development offered suit your needs.

However, if you have doubts about any of those aspects of life at a big corporation, it’s well worth looking into joining a smaller, more nimble company. Here are four reasons why working for a smaller organization might just be a good career move for you:

You Won’t Be Another Cog in the Machine

Employees at big corporations are often hired to fulfill a specific duty with little variation. These tasks can get repetitive and dull very quickly. In this type of environment, there is typically little freedom to experiment and expand your skills.

With a smaller company, you have a greater chance to explore. You can learn about many different aspects of operating a business and gain more experience quickly, which makes it easier to shift your career focus if you find something that interests you more than your current job.

You Will be Noticed

When your job functions operate in a tiny corner of a large corporation, you can easily be forgotten. Not only can this be demoralizing, but it can also hurt your potential for career advancement.

At a smaller company, you’re a more significant part of the operation; there is no place to hide… and typically little need to hide. Of course, you need to be effective in several areas of operations. This, however, makes it more likely you’ll be noticed for your accomplishments and dedication.

Your Work Will Matter

If you’re one of several analysts at a large corporation, there are dozens, or even hundreds, of employees doing your exact job. Your presence on any given day is not vital to the company’s success.

At a smaller company, your daily work matters, and your actions directly affect the bottom line. You are needed. And who doesn’t like to feel needed?

You Will Have Access to Management

Your first job is a learning experience. Your colleagues and bosses have information and strategies to share. At large corporations, opportunities to talk to higher-ups can be few and far between. The focus is on your current tasks, rather than on potential future growth.

Smaller firms will have CEOs and mentors who regularly interact with all levels of the staff and make themselves available. This is a huge opportunity for you to learn from others with more knowledge and experience.

Finding that Job

Unfortunately, it can take a bit more effort to find a small company that fits your qualifications and interests. These probably aren’t the companies your friends are applying to. They don’t have big bucks to throw at recruiters. And they won’t be spending money to distribute hundreds of t-shirts and squishy balls around campus.

Here are some tips for finding the perfect small company:

  • Search “best places to work” lists on Forbes, Crain’s New York Business, and niche publications
  • Search Glassdoor for companies that are hiring based on the job title and location you want
  • Check out your local Chamber of Commerce business directory for small businesses in your area
  • Network deliberately; tell your contacts and mentors you are actively seeking work at a smaller organization

While large companies may dominate the landscape, be sure to explore your potential in a small business environment. Especially for your first job out of college, you just may find the culture a better a match and the experience for more rewarding!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Under30CEO!




About the Author: Stirling Cox is the managing director of AlphaSights USA, a company that connects today’s business leaders with the insight and expertise they need to prosper. The company assists a global client base, including private equity firms, asset managers, strategy consultancies, and corporate executives, in making more informed decisions.



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